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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Afterthoughts: The Detroit Auto Show Blues

      This year's Detroit Auto Show was a bit disappointing. We give some possible reasons as to why.

    This would have been my fourth Detroit Auto Show (or North American International Auto Show as some would like you to call it) for Cheers and Gears. But due to a leg injury sustained a couple of weeks before the show, I was unable to make it. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise as I would miss out on dealing with individuals who break out tape measures and clipboards to note every little detail, along with journalists complaining about why the show isn't held during a warmer month. But it would turn out this year’s show would be a bit disappointing.

    That isn't to say there were not any breakouts. The new Kia Stinger GT looks very intriguing as the new Lexus LS. I'm interested in checking out the new Toyota Camry (bet you weren't expecting that). Volkswagen's I.D. Buzz concept could bring something new in terms of electric vehicles (if it ever gets built). Plus Ford's announcement that the Bronco and Ranger were coming was some excellent news. But everything else landed with a bit of a thud. 

    So how did we end up here? A lot of this comes down to the past few years at Detroit being very bountiful with vehicles that caused jaws to drop and excitement levels to rise. The likes of the Acura NSX, Buick Avista concept, Chevrolet Bolt, Ford GT, and Lexus LC made our souls stir and revel in this magical time. But sooner or later, the well was going to dry up and leave a show that was lacking in spark. 

    At first, I thought it was part of a cycle. You have your high points before falling back down and then rising back up. But the more I thought about it, this might be a sign that the auto show is beginning to fade.

    The past few years have seen a number of automakers hold events off site before the kick-off of the show. Looking at the various social media feeds on Sunday, I was able to count seven different events. Holding something offsite give an automaker a way of controlling the message. It also gives a bit more time in the spotlight, not having to fight with other automakers for it during a packed press day.

    There are also more outlets for automakers to show their wares. The week before the Detroit Auto Show was the Consumer Electronics Show. The past few years have seen more and more automakers take part in regards to electric vehicles and autonomous driving. It has also been home for a small number of debuts; Volkswagen Budd-e, Chrysler Portal concept, and Faraday Future. 

    The combination of these two, along with some manufacturers pulling out of Detroit over the past few years resulted in this year's show. 

    Does this mean the Detroit Auto Show is doomed? Not at the moment. This year, organizers took a page from the LA Auto Show by doing more in terms of talking about the future of the automotive industry and mobility with press conferences and talks from various industry folks from Sunday to Tuesday.

    But the writing is beginning to appear on the wall. Down the road, it seems the auto show will not be the place where news is made. Instead, it will be the place where vehicles are gathered for all to look at.

    Before that day comes, we might get a couple more high points.

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    I think this is a normal change due to how millennials buy products. The old shows of yesteryear are coming to a close and controlled media role outs and CES will be the new battle grounds as the Auto industry battles to capture the pocket books of young who are more interested in the latest smartphone and game or app.

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    While sites like this would be a great supporter of such events, the Internet does not help with keeping secrets for very long about the next new, new thing.  Also, it is hard to get excited over a vehicle that most people can't afford to buy brand new anymore.  At least, I'll still do back flips when the new ZR1 is revealed.

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    Yeah, I visited a few autoshows, and unfortunately, Canada gets nothing in terms of debuts, other than debuts of a vehicle that first will go on sale down south of the border, and then will sell after half a model year with Trump trickle up economics up here.

     

    (Uncontrolled laughther & drool....)

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    • By William Maley
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      Out of the two brands, Jaguar is hurting the most. Sales have dropped like a rock due to people stepping away from sedans and diesel powertrains. Bolloré's plan has the brand moving to an all-electric lineup by 2025. Not many details were released or talked about during the press conference this morning. What we do know is,
      Future models will utilize a new modular electric platform, known as the Electric Modular Architecture (EMA). The planned XJ replacement, rumored to go electric has been canceled. Likely reason for the cancelation is the platform that was going to be used for this model likely didn't scale to other models. Jaguar did say the XJ name could appear again on a future model. Automotive News (Subscription Required) reports that Jaguar will also move away from SUV-styled vehicles, likely meaning the end of the E and F-Pace. Land Rover

      Land Rover isn't going to dive in quickly as Jaguar into EVs. The plan is to continue offering a mix of powertrains, but with a heavy focus on electrification. Six all-electric models are planned to be launched by 2030, with the first model coming out in 2024. No word on what that model would be, but our guess is possibly a Range Rover EV. Land Rover will use Electric Modular Architecture for EVs, alongside the Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) for hybrids. The goal is to have 60 percent of Land Rover sales be for electrics by 2030.
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      Jaguar Land Rover said that it would keep all three of its U.K. plans open, but the Castle Bromwich plant(home to Jaguar XE, XF, and F-Type production) has a unclear future.
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      Jaguar and Land Rover will offer pure electric power, nameplate by nameplate, by 2030. By this time, in addition to 100% of Jaguar sales, it is anticipated that around 60% of Land Rovers sold will be equipped with zero tailpipe powertrains.
      Jaguar Land Rover’s aim is to achieve net zero carbon emissions across its supply chain, products and operations by 2039. As part of this ambition, the company is also preparing for the expected adoption of clean fuel-cell power in line with a maturing of the hydrogen economy. Development is already underway with prototypes arriving on UK roads within the next 12 months as part of the long-term investment programme.
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      Proven services like the flexible PIVOTAL subscription model (which has grown 750% during the fiscal year), born out of Jaguar Land Rover’s incubator and investor arm, InMotion, will now be rolled out to other markets following a successful launch in the UK.
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      ReFocus to a more agile operation
      As evidenced with the latest financial results, Jaguar Land Rover has a strong foundation on which to build a sustainable and resilient business for its customers and their communities, partners, employees, shareholders and the environment.
      Driving this transformation is the recently launched Refocus programme, by consolidating existing initiatives like Charge+ with new cross-functional activities.
      Reimagine will see Jaguar Land Rover right-size, repurpose and reorganise into a more agile operation. The creation of a flatter structure is designed to empower employees to create and deliver at speed and with clear purpose.
      To accelerate this efficiency of focus, the company will substantially reduce and rationalise its non-manufacturing infrastructure in the UK. Gaydon will become the symbol of this effort – the ‘reactor’ of the business - with the Executive Team and other management functions moving into the one location to aid frictionless cooperation and agile decision-making.  
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      In order to realise its vision of modern luxury mobility with confidence, the company will curate closer collaboration and knowledge-sharing with Tata Group companies to enhance sustainability and reduce emissions as well as sharing best practice in next-generation technology, data and software development leadership. Jaguar Land Rover has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Motors, in which Tata Sons is the largest shareholder, since 2008.
      “We have so many ingredients from within. It is a unique opportunity,” said Mr Bolloré. “Others have to rely solely on external partnerships and compromise, but we have frictionless access that will allow us to lean forward with confidence and at speed.”
      Bringing all these ingredients together, Jaguar Land Rover is on a path towards double-digit EBIT margins and positive cash flow, with an ambition to achieve positive cash net-of-debt by 2025. 
      Ultimately, Jaguar Land Rover aims to be one of the most profitable luxury manufacturers in the world.
      Mr N Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons, Tata Motors and Jaguar Land Rover Automotive plc commented: “The Reimagine strategy takes Jaguar Land Rover on a significant path of acceleration in harmony with the vision and sustainability priorities of the wider Tata Group. Together, we will help Jaguar realise its potential, reinforce Land Rover’s timeless appeal and collectively become a symbol of a truly responsible business for its customers, society and the planet.”
      Mr Bolloré concluded: “As a human-centred company, we can, and will, move much faster and with clear purpose of not just reimagining modern luxury but defining it for two distinct brands. Brands that present emotionally unique designs, pieces of art if you like, but all with connected technologies and responsible materials that collectively set new standards in ownership. We are reimagining a new modern luxury by design.”
    • By William Maley
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      “The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business. This new event captures that creative spirit. It will provide new mobility experiences and increasingly innovative approaches to tapping into the industry and its products," said Rod Alberts, executive director of DADA.
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      "With our new program for 2021, we will take the Motor Bella concept to the next level with multiple brands and mobilities represented, from hometown to international nameplates, autonomous vehicles to high-performance supercars, and everything in between, It will be a mobility-filled event. One that will provide our show partners with a cost-efficient backdrop to share all of their brands, products and technologies in a fun and festival-like atmosphere that's completely outdoors," said event chairman Doug North.
      There are some big questions that face organizers. Will they be able to get the revamped Detroit Auto Show launched for 2022, or will Motor Bella take the place? Plus, will COVID-19 be a point where all of us can go this event safely?
      Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), DADA

      New All-Outdoor Motor Bella at M1 Creates Bridge to the Future While North American International Auto Show Pauses for 2021
      TROY, Mich. – (January 11, 2021) – The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) today announced it will not hold its 2021 auto show as planned. Instead, show officials revealed a "bridge to the future" with an auto-centric event called Motor Bella.
      The new event will bring next-generation mobility and exciting vehicle debuts to media, show-goers and the automotive enthusiasts' world in a never before experienced way while also addressing continued COVID-19 concerns about indoor events.
      Motor Bella will be held from Sept. 21-26, 2021, at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Mich. Centrally located in the metro Detroit area, M1 Concourse, often referred to as an "87-acre playground for auto enthusiasts," enables exhibitors to showcase key vehicles and technologies in an outdoor setting.
      Plans call for 1.6 million square feet of dynamic vehicle and technology display space including terrain ideal for showcasing off-roading capabilities. M1 Concourse also offers a 1.5-mile hot track on the grounds for technology and vehicle demonstrations.
      "The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business," said Executive Director Rod Alberts. "This new event captures that creative spirit. It will provide new mobility experiences and increasingly innovative approaches to tapping into the industry and its products."
      Alberts said attendees can expect a multi-sensory experience at the new event. "This all-outdoor venue, with adrenaline-pumping track activities and a full complement of OEM and technology exhibits, is going to offer the sights, sounds and even the smell of all that the new world of mobility has to offer." 
      As auto shows around the world are being reimagined and will continue to do so in the wake of the pandemic, NAIAS had been reimagining its position for some time.
      "While auto shows remain an important platform to promote new mobility innovations and to help people make major vehicle purchase decisions, the traditional auto show model is changing," Alberts said. "We cannot ignore the major disruptions caused by the pandemic and the impact it has had on budgets. As such, we will be providing an amazing experience to the media, the auto industry and the public in a cost-effective way."
      Event Chairman Doug North noted that the M1 Concourse was envisioned as part of the 2021 Motor Bella activities, so it was "a natural progression" to build upon it in light of the growing demand for experiential mobility shows and an increased appetite for outdoor events as a result of the pandemic. Motor Bella was originally conceived as a celebration of Italian and British supercars and classic vehicles and was to have debuted at the June 2020 NAIAS.
      "With our new program for 2021, we will take the Motor Bella concept to the next level with multiple brands and mobilities represented, from hometown to international nameplates, autonomous vehicles to high-performance supercars and everything in between," North said. "It will be a mobility-filled event. One that will provide our show partners with a cost-efficient backdrop to share all of their brands, products and technologies in a fun and festival-like atmosphere that's completely outdoors." 
      Jordan Zlotoff, CEO of M1 Concourse, said, "We are proud and honored to be hosting this world-class automotive event. Motor Bella will allow journalists, industry executives and the public to interact with vehicles in a fully dynamic and experiential format, well beyond the limitations of static displays. As the largest Private Garage community in the world, we at M1 Concourse share the enthusiasm for creating a unique automotive environment built specifically for car enthusiasts."
      North added, "We see this outdoor experience at M1 as a bridge to the future. One that will continue to evolve as we explore new ways of presenting mobility and as we navigate through these unprecedented times. We are very cognizant of the importance and impact our show and our events have on the state and the entire metro Detroit area. This will always be part of our considerations for the future."
      Dates for the 2021 Motor Bella are: 
      Press Preview, Tuesday, Sept. 21 AutoMobili-D, Tuesday, Sept. 21 through a half-day Thursday, Sept. 23 Industry Preview, Wednesday, Sept. 22 and a half-day Thursday, Sept. 23 Public Show, Thursday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 26
    • By William Maley
      It has not been an easy go for the organizers of the Detroit Auto Show. Last year, they had to cancel the revamped show due to concerns about the growing COVID-19 pandemic. The hope was to launch the indoor-outdoor event that would sprawl various parts of Detroit for 2021. But with COVID-19 still a major issue, organizers this afternoon announced the 2021 version would be canceled.
      Automotive News reports that a new, outdoor program called Motor Bella will take its place from September 21st to 26th at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac - about 40 minutes north of Detroit. The new program "will bring next-generation mobility and exciting vehicle debuts to media, show-goers and the automotive enthusiasts," according to a statement released by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) - the organizers of the show. Plans are to have "1.6 million square feet of dynamic vehicle and technology display space," along with the 1.5-mile road course for technology and vehicle demonstrations.
      “The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business. This new event captures that creative spirit. It will provide new mobility experiences and increasingly innovative approaches to tapping into the industry and its products," said Rod Alberts, executive director of DADA.
      Motor Bella was originally planned to be a festival for European supercars that would take place with the updated Detroit Auto Show. 
      "With our new program for 2021, we will take the Motor Bella concept to the next level with multiple brands and mobilities represented, from hometown to international nameplates, autonomous vehicles to high-performance supercars, and everything in between, It will be a mobility-filled event. One that will provide our show partners with a cost-efficient backdrop to share all of their brands, products and technologies in a fun and festival-like atmosphere that's completely outdoors," said event chairman Doug North.
      There are some big questions that face organizers. Will they be able to get the revamped Detroit Auto Show launched for 2022, or will Motor Bella take the place? Plus, will COVID-19 be a point where all of us can go this event safely?
      Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), DADA

      New All-Outdoor Motor Bella at M1 Creates Bridge to the Future While North American International Auto Show Pauses for 2021
      TROY, Mich. – (January 11, 2021) – The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) today announced it will not hold its 2021 auto show as planned. Instead, show officials revealed a "bridge to the future" with an auto-centric event called Motor Bella.
      The new event will bring next-generation mobility and exciting vehicle debuts to media, show-goers and the automotive enthusiasts' world in a never before experienced way while also addressing continued COVID-19 concerns about indoor events.
      Motor Bella will be held from Sept. 21-26, 2021, at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Mich. Centrally located in the metro Detroit area, M1 Concourse, often referred to as an "87-acre playground for auto enthusiasts," enables exhibitors to showcase key vehicles and technologies in an outdoor setting.
      Plans call for 1.6 million square feet of dynamic vehicle and technology display space including terrain ideal for showcasing off-roading capabilities. M1 Concourse also offers a 1.5-mile hot track on the grounds for technology and vehicle demonstrations.
      "The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business," said Executive Director Rod Alberts. "This new event captures that creative spirit. It will provide new mobility experiences and increasingly innovative approaches to tapping into the industry and its products."
      Alberts said attendees can expect a multi-sensory experience at the new event. "This all-outdoor venue, with adrenaline-pumping track activities and a full complement of OEM and technology exhibits, is going to offer the sights, sounds and even the smell of all that the new world of mobility has to offer." 
      As auto shows around the world are being reimagined and will continue to do so in the wake of the pandemic, NAIAS had been reimagining its position for some time.
      "While auto shows remain an important platform to promote new mobility innovations and to help people make major vehicle purchase decisions, the traditional auto show model is changing," Alberts said. "We cannot ignore the major disruptions caused by the pandemic and the impact it has had on budgets. As such, we will be providing an amazing experience to the media, the auto industry and the public in a cost-effective way."
      Event Chairman Doug North noted that the M1 Concourse was envisioned as part of the 2021 Motor Bella activities, so it was "a natural progression" to build upon it in light of the growing demand for experiential mobility shows and an increased appetite for outdoor events as a result of the pandemic. Motor Bella was originally conceived as a celebration of Italian and British supercars and classic vehicles and was to have debuted at the June 2020 NAIAS.
      "With our new program for 2021, we will take the Motor Bella concept to the next level with multiple brands and mobilities represented, from hometown to international nameplates, autonomous vehicles to high-performance supercars and everything in between," North said. "It will be a mobility-filled event. One that will provide our show partners with a cost-efficient backdrop to share all of their brands, products and technologies in a fun and festival-like atmosphere that's completely outdoors." 
      Jordan Zlotoff, CEO of M1 Concourse, said, "We are proud and honored to be hosting this world-class automotive event. Motor Bella will allow journalists, industry executives and the public to interact with vehicles in a fully dynamic and experiential format, well beyond the limitations of static displays. As the largest Private Garage community in the world, we at M1 Concourse share the enthusiasm for creating a unique automotive environment built specifically for car enthusiasts."
      North added, "We see this outdoor experience at M1 as a bridge to the future. One that will continue to evolve as we explore new ways of presenting mobility and as we navigate through these unprecedented times. We are very cognizant of the importance and impact our show and our events have on the state and the entire metro Detroit area. This will always be part of our considerations for the future."
      Dates for the 2021 Motor Bella are: 
      Press Preview, Tuesday, Sept. 21 AutoMobili-D, Tuesday, Sept. 21 through a half-day Thursday, Sept. 23 Industry Preview, Wednesday, Sept. 22 and a half-day Thursday, Sept. 23 Public Show, Thursday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 26
      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The news came during dinner last Monday. My mother asked if I would be able to take any time off of work, and I said that I might be able to if the circumstances were considered important. She revealed that my grandfather, her dad passed away that afternoon. It wasn’t from COVID-19, but other complications that had put in him the hospital since early June. After dinner, I needed some time and space to begin processing the news. So I grabbed the keys to my car and went for a drive.
      The past few months have been difficult for all of us in varying degrees with COVID-19. Many places going on lockdown have caused massive disruptions to how we work, travel, and interact with the world. I have been hunkered down at home since mid-March when my employer announced our office would be closed for the time being, and we would be working from home. During the first month or so, I had put a moratorium on driving except for essential places such as the grocery store or pharmacy. Isolating to prevent catching and/or spreading the virus took priority over going for a drive. But after a month of just being in a house with family and doing the same things over and over, I was going stir crazy. 
      I realized that I needed some space to not only prevent myself from losing it, but to give me some room to think about everything floating in my mind. Going for daily walks either by myself or with the dog helped a bit. But I still felt like I needed some more space, more time to myself.
      Back in 2015, I wrote an Afterthoughts column titled The Escape Machine. I talked about how the car for some of us was a way to escape the world for a time. You could go anywhere depending on how much fuel was in the tank and give the space needed to clear or process whatever was on the mind. I ended the piece with these two lines,
      That decision for me came in late April/early May. I would go for long drives, provided that I would wear a mask if I got out to go for a walk. Going for the first drive in over a month was a bit of revelation. Turing the steering wheel, pressing down on the accelerator and brake; and watching the world go past in blur made me realize how much I missed this. This seems like a trope, but you have a newfound appreciation for something you haven’t done in some time. This also gave me the space to begin piecing together various thoughts such as how do I keep myself from falling into the endless pit of despair, what can I do to keep myself from feeling bored, and do I dive back into automotive writing.
      I didn’t know how important this would become in the coming weeks as COVID-19 cases increased, the economy would come to a screeching halt; and the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing fallout. Whenever my mind would become overwhelmed or I just get too frustrated, I would hop into my vehicle and go somewhere. It didn’t matter where or how long, just as long as I had some space to think or to calm down, it would be enough.
      Back to last Monday night. As I drove, there was a lot I needed to process in terms of grief and wondering what would happen next: Would there be a funeral, what precautions should I take, will it be a long ceremony, and so on. I didn’t come up with any clear answers to these questions, but having that time to start putting things into perspective helped. 
      It was on the way back that another thought popped into my head. At the moment, we’re all trying to find some sense of normal in a world that isn’t. For auto enthusiasts, that is to drive as it gives some sort of control. It may be a small thing, but they provide some much-needed comfort.
      Like many of us, I don’t what the rest of year holds if it continues to be a landfill fire or somehow begins to contain itself. But I do know that I’ll likely be taking more drives, whether that be my car or one that I’m reviewing. Having something that provides a sense of normal is welcomed.

      View full article
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